Ties, Tools and Tunes: Gifts for Men

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Think you only buy ties and socks and tools for the men in your life when you can’t think of anything else to get? Think again.

When it comes to buying gifts for guys, make ‘em feel rich or make ‘em feel useful and you’ll make ‘em feel happy for the holidays.

“I like either decadence or practicality,” said New York-based actor/playwright Michael Tisdale. “I got a ratchet set once that I use and I also once got a pair of cashmere socks which are absurd but sort of great, too.”

Is your guy a techie geek? Click here for more ideas.

The trick is not to buy your dad any old tie -- it’s to buy him a tie that a king would wear. Don't just buy him tools -- buy him tools his contractor would covet. Buy him something that -- even if he doesn't use it -- he'll love owning.

Tie One On

To avoid wrinkle and wear due to constant knotting, tailors of old used the finest silks in the making of their ties. By folding the fabric in on itself several times, a certain resiliency was achieved without sacrificing the shape and lay of the garment. Apparently, seven was the magic number of folds.

In the mid-1980s, Victor Talbots starting hand-crafting the Seven-Fold Tie again, and Italian tailoring firm Kiton makes one, too. Both go for over $150 but trust me, when he hangs one around his neck, he'll feel like a million bucks.

Light His Fire

Forget the yule log, light up the holidays with a Weber One-Touch Gold, $149, and you’ll see your man get choked up like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It’s a Wonderful Life."

There’s something primitive about men and their grills. It’s part of the original quest for fire. Consider the quest over.

Weber introduced the classic kettle grill in 1952 and they haven’t changed it since. And why should they? They still do the job better than most, they’re guaranteed for 10 years and they have a cool, classy look that would make a Neanderthal develop the capacity for speech, just so he could ask to stand closer to it.

Patrick Flanagan, an L.A.-based computer programmer, said of the One-Touch: “THIS is man’s best friend."

Lather Him Up

Men feel good when they're shaving. Face it, it’s one of the few things left that women can’t do better. Remind your man that he's a man: get him a real shaving kit.

The most important components are the brush and the cream. Any mug or dish can be used to lather and any razor with the word “mach” in it will do the job, but the brush is what makes it the real deal.

A good boar (bristle) brush is cheap, a good badger is a bit more, and you can get full kits for anywhere between $40 and $200. Give him a tub of Sienna Shave Cream from Crabtree & Evelyn or L'Occitane’s Cade soap, which comes in a handsome aluminum dish. They’re both under $40 and have very masculine fragrances.

L’Occitane also has a cool boar brush for travel that’s only $40. If you want to go really nuts, visit The Art of Shaving and browse kits that go to the thousands. Just be careful: if he likes it, he might be looking to graduate next year.

Flanagan said: “I have a brush and I use it every day. Squeeze the cream on top and then lather up. I think a moustache trimmer, a hair clipper and a good styptic pencil would be good, too. A shaving kit that’s fully outfitted and ready to go.”

A Day at the Spa

You think he thinks spas are for girls, right? Give him a gift certificate and find out how wrong you are.

Most high-end hotels have good packages -- usually just a firm Swedish massage will be enough for any guy -- and there are spa chains like Burke Williams that have bowls of fruit around and people serving lemon water.

Here’s the thing he might not know: He can hang out in the spa hours before and hours after the actual massage. This holiday season, tell him to take a steam, sit in the sauna, relax in the whirlpool and eat grapes like Caesar. There are even some couples packages where he might be able to to peel you a banana or two.

Hollywood literary manager Jonathan Hung likes this idea. “With the stress of dealing with clients, it’d be nice to have someone taking care of you for the day,” he said.

CitySearch has a good spa guide for every city.

Tools He Will Use

Every dad gets his stocking stuffed with some silly multi-tool he never touches. But what man can resist power tools?

The 6-Pack Laser Cordless Combo from Skil is pretty much the coolest set for the money available right now. Not only can it do just about anything, it does it with lasers. Available at Home Depot for $199.

Not the Same-Old Socks

If he’s going to wear a $200 tie, he can’t put on a pair of $10 socks. The height of decadence is wearing something elegant that only he will know he's wearing, like Tisdale’s cashmere socks, available for $48 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Or for you bargain hunters out there, Neiman Marcus has a pair for $44

Remember, it’s not about buying him something he’d buy himself -- it’s about buying him something he’d never allow himself to buy.

Tune Him Out

It can’t get easier than this: Go to iTunes.com, click the link that says “Give Music,” fill out the form and send. Congratulations, you’re done Christmas shopping. Great for your boss, your brother or any other human being with ears. There’s even a whole section of audiobooks for the long-distance commuter who wants to go someplace else when he drives.

Television producer Lee Fleming wants only iTunes this year.

“iTunes. I just told my family. I've blown at least a grand on songs since I got my iPod. It's a problem. So I just came out and told everyone that’s what I want. That way, I don't end up with some huge, 500-pound rustic-looking hideous Amish-made chair like the one my brother gave me last Christmas.”

A Few More Ideas

Poker is huge right now. Favoritegear.com has a variety of poker sets at discounted prices.

Tiffany & Co. is famous for its high-class cufflinks. A classic gift, they start at only $100. Or try a silver money clip. They start at $85.

Is your man more the outdoorsy type? The Katahdin sweater at L.L. Bean starting for $49, is an updated version of the traditional ragg wool sweater popular in the '40s, '50s and '80s with outdoor sportsmen.

Still in doubt? Sunglass Hut has a variety of designer shades for every man.

Stocking the Stocking

Here’s a few things you can throw in your guy's stocking, other than the usual razor blades, golf balls and Old Spice.

Altoids: Tie three tins with a big red bow. The sugarless minis fit better in an attaché and are easier to talk through during a meeting.

Luggage Tags: Personalize them for him here.

Swiss Army Knife: He'll love any one you get him, but here are a few real beauties that you can also have engraved.

Travel Alarm Clock: Here's one so cool he’ll use it at home.

Leather Gloves are always a favorite.

Letter opener: Even if he’s not afraid of paper cuts, these things make going through the mail more fun. Here’s a higher end one from Levenger.

Miscellaneous stuff that will fit in a sock: A pack of Tea Tree Toothpicks from Thursday Plantation; disposable luggage locks; a Space Pen and, for the pandemic--minded, antibacterial hand wipes.

So remember, if don’t want your Ho-Ho-Ho to be Ho-Ho-Hum, go for the gold and give him something ... exceptional. Buy him something he doesn’t think he deserves -- it’ll make him feel like he does.